Getting Case Acceptance to 90%

February 26, 2024 Paul Henny DDS

Getting Case Acceptance to 90% 

Paul A. Henny, DDS 

Studies show that the average comprehensive care treatment plan acceptance rate is in the 30% range. Why do you suppose that is? 

Humankind’s Innate Prediction Machine 

Our brain is a prediction machine that’s always turned on. To a large degree, it operates like the autocomplete function on our phone – it’s constantly trying to guess the next word when we listen to a book, read, or conduct a conversation. Contrary to speech recognition AI bots, our brains are constantly making predictions at different levels, from meaning and grammar to specific speech sounds. Our brain continuously compares sensory information with memories. The more negative the memories, the more negative the predictions. 

Additionally, there’s a central purpose behind our prediction machine: Survival, successful reproduction (propagation of our genome), and rewards that might take the form of rising up in the social hierarchy or gaining scarce resources. 

Regarding survival, our brain likes to stack the odds 4:1 in its favor, meaning, it tends to predict negative outcomes 4X more often than it will positive outcomes. This is nature’s way of staying safe so we’ll have the opportunity to live another day. 

Stacking odds in Its favor is very primal, yet the stacking influences many of our impressions and decisions. Complex situations requiring complex decisions must go through this 4:1 negative bias loop. 

A Steep Slope to Climb 

Now, apply this information to how you work with your patients. Unless you enter a relationship with a stellar reputation that has transferred a high level of trust, you are starting off with 4:1 odds against the advancement of your agenda. That’s a steep slope, yet we ignore that truth every day. 

The only way to overcome the 4:1 odds against us is to allow trust to organically develop in the relationship. And that must be achieved in small steps: Simple proposals, agreements, and experiences that meet unspoken expectations.  

Would you agree to hire a contractor to build your dream home after talking with them for only 15 minutes? Wouldn’t you want to see examples of their work and call one or more of their clients to learn how good they are at following through and sticking to their word? 

I thought so but for some reason, we all want to believe that when a person needs extensive oral restoration or rehabilitation, that they will be ready to make a multi-thousand dollar decision within minutes of seeing our amazing digital presentation. In fact, we’re so confident that it will work, that we’ll do our exams for free to create a “sales funnel.” 

The Common Approach Fails 

Most people don’t react well to this approach because it’s too much information-too fast, and it’s all coming from a virtual stranger. They’re not ready to have us build their dream home for obvious reasons. Why, then, do we ignore all of that and call them “tire kickers?” 

The Alternative Approach 

Dentists who deploy the co-discovery, co-diagnosis, and co-success treatment planning process outlined by Dr. Robert F. Barkley often get above 90% case acceptance. I bet you wouldn’t be surprised to know that Pankey Institute faculty are among them. Understanding how the mind works and structuring your new patient processes to beat the 4:1 odd is more than possible. I invite you to read my recently published book: Co-Discovery: Exploring the Legacy of Robert F. Barkley, DDS. The book is available at the Pankey Institute now with all proceeds benefiting the Insitute. 

  

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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Explaining Dentistry in a Way Patients Understand

February 14, 2024 Clayton Davis, DMD

Explaining Dentistry in a Way Patients Understand 

Clayton Davis, DMD 

Here are some of the ways I communicate with patients to help them understand dentistry. I hope some of these will be helpful to you in enabling your patients to make good decisions about their treatment.  

Occlusal Disease: In helping patients understand occlusal disease and the destruction it can cause, I have long said to them, “The human masticatory system is designed to chew things up. When it is out of alignment, it will chew itself up.” I tell them, “Your teeth are aging at an accelerated rate. We need to see if we can find a way to slow down the aging process of your teeth.” The idea of slowing down aging is very attractive to patients, and if you relate it to their teeth, they get it.  

Occlusal Equilibration: Typically, I come at this from the standpoint of helping them understand that teeth are sensors for the muscles, and when the brain becomes aware our back teeth are rubbing against each other, it sends the same response to the muscles as when there’s food between our teeth. In other words, the brain tells the muscles it’s time to chew, and this accelerates wear rates on the teeth. Equilibration is really a conservative treatment to reduce force and destruction of the teeth.  

Diseases of the Jaw Joints: Regarding jaw joints and adaptive changes and breakdown, patients understand that joints have cartilage associated with them. Saying there has been cartilage damage in your jaw joint gets the message across simply. 

Treatment Presentation: When patients say, “I know you want to do a crown on that tooth,” I jokingly say, “Oh, don’t do it for me. Do it for yourself.” I never say, “You need to get this work done.” Instead, I say, “I think you are going to want to have this work done.” 

Conservative Treatment: I have always enjoyed John Kois’s saying that no dentistry is better than no dentistry, so when talking about conservative dentistry, I’ll tell patients, “No dentistry is better than no dentistry. We certainly don’t intend to do any dentistry that doesn’t need to be done.” Another way I speak about conservative dentistry is to say, “Conservative dentistry is dentistry that minimizes treatment. In the case of a cracked tooth, a crown is actually more conservative than a filling because it minimizes risk.” 

Moving Forward with Treatment: I love Mary Osborne’s leading question for patients after they’ve been shown their issues and treatment possibilities have been discussed. The question is “Where would you like to go from here?” With amazing regularity, the patients choose a really good starting point for their next steps toward improved health, steps that feel right to them. Always remember, people tend to support that which they help create. 

Dental Insurance: I typically speak of dental insurance as a coupon that can be applied to their dental bills. I’ll say, “Every plan sets limits on how much it pays. The way dental insurance works, it’s as if your employer has provided a coupon to go toward your dental bills.” 

Presenting Optimal Care: If I want to present optimal care to a patient who is ready to hear it, I ask permission by saying, “Mrs. Jones, if I were the patient and a doctor did not tell me what optimal treatment would be for my problems because the doctor was concerned that I couldn’t afford it or that I would not want it, I would think, ‘How dare you make that judgment for me. You tell me what optimal care would be, and I’ll decide for myself if I want it.’ So, with that in mind, Mrs. Jones, would it be okay with you if I presented you with the optimal solutions for your problems?” 

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Clayton Davis, DMD

Dr. Clayton Davis received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina. Continuing his education at the Medical College of Georgia, he earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree in 1980. Having grown up in the Metro Atlanta area, Dr. Davis and his wife, Julia, returned to establish practice and residence in Gwinnett County. In addition to being a Visiting Faculty Member of The Pankey Institute, Dr. Davis is a leader in Georgia dentistry, both in terms of education and service. He is an active member of the Atlanta Dental Study Group, Hinman Dental Society, and the Georgia Academy of Dental Practice. He served terms as president of the Georgia Dental Education Foundation, Northern District Dental Society, Gwinnett Dental Society, and Atlanta Dental Study Group. He has been state coordinator for Children’s Dental Health Month, facilities chairman of Georgia Mission of Mercy, and served three terms in the Georgia Dental Association House of Delegates.

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The Never-Ending Patient Interview

October 11, 2023 Paul Henny DDS

In the year 1958, Dr. L. D. Pankey asked one of his most devout students to join him and teach the Pankey philosophy about dentistry and life to dentists around the world. And that’s precisely what they did. F. Harold Wirth, DDS, was one of the most dynamic speakers in all of dentistry. He rivaled Drs. L. D. Pankey and Bob Barkley in his ability to engage an audience and make his points clear using real (often funny) stories from his practice and life experiences.

Harold understood people on a very deep level—physically and emotionally. For this, he gave Dr. Pankey most of the credit. He had a very successful restorative practice in downtown New Orleans prior to meeting Dr. Pankey, but always felt that something was missing. L.D. Pankey showed him what that was, which turned Harold Wirth into a missionary for whole-person dentistry from that point forward:

“Give the case presentation to the person who makes the decisions,” Dr. Wirth said. “If I ever get to the point where I’m explaining what I’d like to do…If I’m not already about 90% into gaining their agreement, then I have messed up! Because I should have already won them over with the interview, the aura of my office, the literature that I’ve given them to read, and whatever else I’ve done before that time.”

Dr. Wirth said, “The case is constantly being presented: Every time the patient comes in, you’re doing a presentation. As a matter of fact, I think the interview is forever ongoing. It might only be one word, but every time the patient comes into your office, you should be interviewing them. Are you comfortable? Does your bite feel good? Are your teeth sensitive?”

These are questions that have to do with how the person FEELS. A case history is exploring what happened, but an interview is about how they feel! You need to understand the difference! How do you feel about your restorations? Are you comfortable? Are you satisfied with the appearance of your smile? Can you chew everything you want to chew?

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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Finding a Better Way 

September 18, 2023 DeWittWilkerson

In recent years, dentists, physicians, and the public have become highly aware of the interrelationships among occlusion, oral inflammation, airway problems, and systemic health. As dentists, we’ve stretched our care domain to coordinate patient care across all settings of care. Often, we are dismayed at the growing prevalence of chronic diseases among our aging patients. We want to help improve their lives. We know of ways to do this.

To do our best for our patients, it does matter if the patient has diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, gastric reflux, or poor nutrition. It does matter if we want to be master problem solvers in collaboration with our medical colleagues. Looking for oral and systemic health interrelationships every day with every patient is a basic element of many dental practices. Collaboration with physicians is a basic element of my practice.

Has your approach to patient care extended into at least the first phase of integrative dental medicine? This is the phase of sincerely asking the Why questions and searching for solutions. While I was in practice with Dr. Pete Dawson, for 40 years, I heard him say, “We’re going to ask why about problems until we don’t have to ask why anymore.” He called this “finding a better way.”

The 3 Pillars of Integrative Dental Medicine

In 2019, Dr. Shanley Lestini and I published a book titled The Shift: The Dramatic Movement Toward Health Centered Dentistry. In this endeavor, we were fortunate to have the support and input of two of the world’s most preeminent clinicians and educators, Dr. Peter E. Dawson and Dr. Bradly Bale. It was our goal to influence dentists and medical physicians toward fostering solutions together for their mutual patients in three pillar areas of integrative dental medicine:

  1. TMD and Occlusion
  2. Inflammation & Infection
  3. Breathing and Sleep Disorders

Finding a Better Way Is Up to All of Us

My goal in this essay is to fuel your passion for operationalizing what we all know will make us better doctors – that which will enable us to be truly health-centered dentists. It comes down to relentless curiosity about the causes of diseases, the modalities for eliminating those causes, and how our best “individualized” efforts with a patient will have the greatest positive impact on the prevention, elimination, and management of health conditions that adversely affect their quality of life.

“We’re going to ask why about problems until we don’t have to ask why anymore.” – Peter E. Dawson, DDS

In this era of heightened awareness surrounding the intricate connections between oral health, overall wellness, and the growing prevalence of chronic diseases, we, as healthcare providers, find ourselves at a crossroads. It is our commitment to improve the lives of our patients that propels us forward. Embracing the principles of Integrative Dental Medicine (IDM) beckons us to explore the “Why” questions and seek innovative solutions. Don’t miss your chance to embark on a journey that redefines the boundaries of healthcare with the upcoming course “Integrative Dental Medicine: Creating Healthier Patients & Practices” – for more information visit the course page.

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True Listening in the Pre-Exam Interview

June 2, 2023 Paul Henny DDS

An essential technique in effective listening with new patients involves an interviewing discipline known as “bracketing.”

Psychiatrist and author M. Scott Peck described bracketing as “the temporary giving up or setting aside of one’s own prejudices, frames of reference, and desires so as to experience—as far as possible, the speaker’s world from the inside, stepping inside his or her shoes.”

True listening requires a setting aside of ourselves. It also requires acceptance of the person as they are in the moment.

In his book Ways of Being Unconditional, Carl Rogers defined “unconditional positive regard” as accepting and supporting another person exactly as they are, without evaluating or judging them. At the heart of this concept is the belief that every person has the personal resources within to help themselves. They simply need to be offered an environment of acceptance that can foster their own recognition of this.

The goal is to create a safe psychological space where the patient senses acceptance, and therefore feels less vulnerable and thus more inclined to open up to share their fears and concerns regarding dental issues. This is challenging, particularly in the middle of a busy schedule, as most of the time, we lack the capacity to truly listen while other responsibilities and distractions are present.

We need to set the environment with intention.

To do this well, uninterrupted times in the schedule must be established as well as a comfortable non-clinical location. The battle seems to always be between structuring our schedule for efficiency versus creating more open-ended opportunities for trust to develop and knowledge conveyed.

We need to truly listen.

Are you able to turn your focus to orchestrating an interview in which you actively listen? Yes, well, then good but how easy is it for you to maintain that focus?

Even though we may feel we are truly listening, what we are often doing is listening selectively, with a preset agenda in mind…thinking about what we want to happen next…procedurally or financially, wondering as we listen how we can achieve a certain desired result by redirecting the conversation in ways more satisfactory to us.

Even though we may feel we are truly listening, we often respond to what the patient is saying by assuming our interpretation of the question they ask or the concern they relate is actually what the patient is attempting to say. And this is why Mary Osborne’s Staying in the Question Part 3 blog is so on point that I recommend others read it. 

True listening, no matter how brief, requires effort and total concentration. This means we cannot truly listen to another person and do anything else at the same time. While in the middle of a busy day at the office, this is challenging—very challenging.

The first step is willingness.

Our willingness to truly listen is the most tangible form of esteem we can give to another person. And if we give a new acquaintance our esteem, they will feel less ashamed or embarrassed. Consequently, they will start to feel less threatened and more valuable. And it’s those who feel valuable to themselves, who are most likely to be interested in taking better care of themselves through fine dentistry.

Carl Rogers helped us see there is no better way for our patients to learn they are valuable (rather than deficient or flawed) than by our valuing them first through careful listening.

  • When we offer no judgement, they feel less fearful, and they can share their thoughts and emotions more freely.
  • As we accept them, they feel encouraged to find self-acceptance and think for themselves.
  • As we invite them openly to share, instead of asking questions designed to illicit certain answers, we give them space to think for themselves, and with such space, they can begin to cultivate their inner resources and rise to our expectations for what is in their best health interest—on their own.

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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Tips for Being More Present with Patients 

May 29, 2023 Kelley Brummett DMD

Tip 1: Develop the Habit of Clearing Your Mind as Your Move from Patient to Patient

One of the hardest challenges in dentistry is moving from room to room and being able to refocus and give each patient your full and undivided attention. Here’s a little trick I do to increase my presence as I move between rooms and patients.

As I move down the hall between operatories, I habitually self-talk. I silently say to myself, “The patient I just left will be fine with my dental assistant.” I intentionally turn off thoughts about the patient I left, and as I cross the threshold of the next operatory, I am interested in only that next patient. It is not easy, and the more intentional I am at bringing it into my consciousness, I believe the better my focus can become.

Interruptions of this type occur throughout the day as I need to stop what I am doing with one patient to check in on the patient in the Hygiene room. Fortunately, I have a long enough hall between my operatory and the Hygiene room to “practice” my little self-control meditation.

Tip 2: Identify an Analogy that Is Understandable for the Present Patient

I know I am not the only dentist who has patients who are not moving forward with the treatment I have recommended. Recently when interacting with a patient who was not moving forward with occlusal therapy I got to watch his understanding shift about the recommendation I had made. The difference was in explaining it in a language he understood. I credit Dr. Rich Green for mentoring me through this understanding. I related it to a real-life experience he already had.

The patient had been in my practice for a little while. We had identified that he had some occlusal disease. He had wear on teeth, some clinical attachment loss, abfractions, teeth that ran into each other, awareness that he brought his teeth together, and at times muscle tension.

One day I asked him, “Can you help me understand why you are not moving forward with occlusal therapy?”

He said, “You know, I just don’t know if it is going to benefit me.”

I happened to look down at his feet and notice he had good running shoes on. I said, “Those are fancy running shoes. They’re pretty cool. Do you wear them because you like how they look or because of another reason?”

He replied, “Actually I wear them because they are very supportive. I often have back muscle tension, and I need to wear really good shoes.”

I said, “You know, the dental orthotic that I’ve been calling an occlusal appliance is no different than wearing really good running shoes. Wearing a dental orthotic is like putting inserts in your shoes to create balance, decrease fatigue in the muscles, and provide me with the opportunity to learn what’s going on at the tooth level, the muscle level, and the joint level. Wearing the dental orthotic is likely to help you understand why you are experiencing discomfort at times, what those patterns are, and when they occur. And it just might be therapeutic in relieving muscle tension you have been experiencing and protect your teeth while we discover what is going on.”

He nodded and said, “Okay, I get it. I understand now. When can we start?”

Tip 3: Ask a Well-Crafted Question

Asking well-crafted questions allows us to better know the patient and get more complete information. Asking powerful questions also makes patients more aware that some of what they are experiencing is not healthy…is not normal.

For example, I often notice patients are not reporting pain as we do risk assessments on their muscles and joints. So, I ask the patient to rate the level of pain at which they take pain medication when they have a headache. “On a scale of 1 to 10, when would you pick up the bottle of Advil and take a pill to treat the pain?”

There are people who will take Advil when pain is at a 1 or 2 and others who will only take it when pain is at a 12. I’ve learned that there are people who have low pain tolerance who will call whenever they have pain in a tooth and other people who tolerate higher pain for months because they think it is normal.

By asking patients to rate their pain tolerance level, they become self-aware of symptoms they might be experiencing that align with the signs you observe and are discussing. They become more aware of what is normal and abnormal. If they have the tendency to not move forward with treatment until they are in acute pain, they become more aware that delaying treatment is not in their best interest. They realize the discomfort they have been experiencing is abnormal and they do not have to…should not tolerate it.

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Kelley Brummett DMD

Dr. Kelley D. Brummett was born and raised in Missouri. She attended the University of Kansas on a full-ride scholarship in springboard diving and received honors for being the Big Eight Diving Champion on the 1 meter springboard in 1988 and in 1992. Dr. Kelley received her BA in communication at the University of Kansas and went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After practicing nursing, Dr Kelley Brummett went on to earn a degree in Dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia. She has continued her education at the Pankey Institute to further her love of learning and her pursuit to provide quality individual care. Dr. Brummett is a Clinical Instructor at Georgia Regents University and is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Brummett and her husband Darin have two children, Sarah and Sam. They have made Newnan their home for the past 9 years. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading and playing with her dogs. Dr. Brummett is an active member of the ADA, GDA, AGDA, and an alumni of the Pankey Institute.

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The Importance of the Pre-clinical Interview 

April 7, 2023 Daren Becker DMD

Occasionally we discover that we are not the right dental team for a particular patient or that the patient is not looking for what we offer. This doesn’t happen very often, but it can save a ton of time and help manage expectations if we find out before doing the comprehensive exam.

When new patients come into our practice, we always begin with a preclinical interview and then proceed to do a comprehensive exam. One new patient arrived and was seated in the consultation room. I came in and started the preclinical conversation. We started talking about her health history and dental history.

As we talked about her dental history, it becomes apparent that she had a history of “fixing things as they broke.” I explained that our exam process would allow us to find and treat issues early. I tried to help her understand that treating a cracked tooth as soon as the crack is observed could save the tooth and avoid the breakage she had experienced. I described to her what the exam would include, that I would describe and show her problems I saw, and that I would explain risk factors that could develop into future problems.

She said, “I don’t want you to do that. I just want you to make sure I don’t have any cavities and that’s it.”

I said, “Well, we can certainly do that. We can look for any teeth that have a cavity. Would you like me to tell you if I see anything else going on?”

“No,” she said, “I don’t want to know any more than that.”

We talked a little longer, and I tried to understand why she didn’t want to know. I said, “You know a tooth problem is a kind of like a tiny skin cancer they burn off instead of waiting until it grows and then you need a big Mohs procedure.”

She didn’t respond, so I said, “Let’s go to the dental chair, take a look, and see what we find, and we’ll take some x-rays.”

She said, “I don’t want x-rays.”

I explained that we couldn’t accurately diagnose cavities without x-rays. She then said, “I don’t think this is the right place for me.”

Fifteen minutes into our conversation, I heard myself say, “I think you may be right. We are here to help patients improve and maintain their oral health and to avoid having bigger problems.”

Before I could continue, she interrupted me, firmly saying, “No that’s not important to me.”

My response was, “Well then, it was nice to meet you,” and I stood up to walk her to the door.

I’ve known dentists who rush right into new patient exams without conversation in which they learn if the patient is motivated to improve and maintain their oral health. I told the team to not charge her for the appointment, and I told them, “That was the best preclinical interview we ever had because we stopped wasting her time and our time.”

Fortunately, most of the new patients who come to us have “Aha” moments during the preclinical interview and comprehensive exam. They immediately understand the value of what we are striving to do and are interested in the discoveries we make during the examination. They ask questions and want to know why conditions are the way they are. They want to know what can be done to lower risk factors. They may need nurturing over multiple appointments to accept treatment but we see them making progress with their emotions and decisions to move forward. The time we take with these patients is not wasted because it is quality time during which we build mutual trust.

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Daren Becker DMD

Dr. Becker earned his Bachelors of Science Degree in Computer Science from American International College and Doctor of Dental Medicine from the University of Florida College of Dentistry. He practices full time in Atlanta, GA with an emphasis on comprehensive restorative, implant and aesthetic dentistry. Daren began his advanced studies at the Pankey Institute in 1998 and was invited to be a guest facilitator in 2006 and has been on the visiting faculty since 2009. In addition, in 2006 he began spending time facilitating dental students from Medical College of Georgia College of Dentistry at the Ben Massell Clinic (treating indigent patients) as an adjunct clinical faculty. In 2011 he was invited to be a part time faculty in the Graduate Prosthodontics Residency at the Center for Aesthetic and Implant Dentistry at Georgia Health Sciences University, now Georgia Regents University College of Dental Medicine (formerly Medical College of Georgia). Dr. Becker has been involved in organized dentistry and has chaired and/or served on numerous state and local committees. Currently he is a delegate to the Georgia Dental Association. He has lectured at the Academy of General Dentistry annual meeting, is a regular presenter at ITI study clubs as well as numerous other study clubs. He is a regular contributor at Red Sky Dental Seminars.

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Guard Your Heart

October 28, 2022 Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

All of you have heard me quote the famous proverb: “Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.” It is great wisdom. It is also very practical.

To remain healthy and safe, our “hearts” need to be protected. We need rest, downtime, and peace of mind. We need a life that gives energy as well as demands it. We need people around us to remind us of who we really are and what is important. We need to say yes to what is most essential and no to the things that aren’t essential.

In recent weeks I have heard a podcast interview of two people on the other side of burnout and a forced six-month sabbatical. I have had multiple conversations with dentists and dental teams that are overwhelmed and disillusioned. In addition, I have listened to a sad story of a friend who started behaving carelessly and out of character secondary to the fatigue and frustration of unrelenting pressure and career demands. He just wasn’t himself.

Many of you are running full speed, meeting the relentless demands of your practice as well as pursuing teaching and writing opportunities. The question I pose to each of you is “Which opportunities and demands are the most important—essential, to you and your unique life?”

We needlessly increase stress when we compare ourselves to others and think we should achieve what they are achieving. We create pressure on ourselves when we feel we should say yes to others’ requests for our energy and time. In contrast, we honor health when we pause to consider what is best for ourselves and recall our personal priorities.

Our purpose, capacity, energy, desires, loves, dislikes, and circumstances are unique to each of us and unlike those of anyone else.

I have listened to and read about people, who have been through periods when they struggled with their physical health, energy, and emotional state. To recover, they found that vacations were only a part of the solution. They had to find a community of peer support. They had to find ways to make each day healthier and more productive. They had to intentionally create “white space” in their life, place only the most important events on their schedule, and develop a respectful way to say “no” or “not now.”

Saying no is difficult for most of us but is required to live our one short life on purpose. In addition to living on purpose, there are other essentials for wellness. I’m thinking of:

  • Resilience—Restoring physical, mental, and emotional strength often requires more rest, exercise, and recreative interaction outside of work with family and friends to reframe perspective.
  • Meaningful work—Do what you love at least 50% of the time.
  • Energy management—Pace yourself, take breaks, enjoy the “flow” that occurs when you are highly engaged in your work, and respectfully rely on your leadership team to help you maintain a schedule that prioritizes the most important activities.
  • A peer-to-peer community of support—We have the human need to give and receive empathy, understanding, wise counsel, sparks of creativity, and encouragement.
  • Dedicated time to recreate the self—Think in terms of daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal-yearly rhythms. Create time to regularly relax, relate, and play outside of dental practice. Like a surfer running to the beach when the waves are perfect, allow yourself some flexibility to embrace spontaneous opportunities.
  • Spiritual nourishment and expression—What nourishes the most foundational part of you? Seek the goodness that elevates your soul and feed on those nutrients. Celebrate that goodness with gratitude.

We talk a lot about balance at Pankey, and we do this because it is all too easy for healthcare providers to run out of steam…to run out of oxygen. Like the airline steward says, “Put on your emergency oxygen mask first before assisting others.”

Our positive thoughts, emotions, words, and actions—our joyful hearts, are what make it possible for us to be a wellspring of understanding, compassion, and love. We need to protect our hearts to enjoy our work and improve the wellness of everyone around us.

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E4: Posterior Reconstruction and Completing the Comprehensive Treatment Sequence

DATE: February 27 2025 @ 8:00 am - March 3 2025 @ 2:30 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

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The purpose of this course is to help you develop mastery with complex cases involving advanced restorative procedures, precise sequencing and interdisciplinary coordination. Building on the learning in Essentials Three…

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Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Dr. Edwin A. McDonald III received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Economics from Midwestern State University. He earned his DDS degree from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Dr. McDonald has completed extensive training in dental implant dentistry through the University of Florida Center for Implant Dentistry. He has also completed extensive aesthetic dentistry training through various programs including the Seattle Institute, The Pankey Institute and Spear Education. Mac is a general dentist in Plano Texas. His practice is focused on esthetic and restorative dentistry. He is a visiting faculty member at the Pankey Institute. Mac also lectures at meetings around the country and has been very active with both the Dallas County Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. Currently, he is a student in the Naveen Jindal School of Business at the University of Texas at Dallas pursuing a graduate certificate in Executive and Professional Coaching. With Dr. Joel Small, he is co-founder of Line of Sight Coaching, dedicated to helping healthcare professionals develop leadership and coaching skills that improve the effectiveness, morale and productivity of their teams.

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My Patient Ron

April 1, 2022 Paul Henny DDS

We had another interesting week at the dental office when a patient (I’ll call Ron) came in. Ron has been a patient of mine for over 20 years and is nearing 80. Whenever I saw him, we would have interesting conversations about what he was doing and thinking about doing next. He was the kind of person I love to be around, always positive with a “can-do” attitude.

This time was different. I hadn’t seen Ron in over three years, because he suffered a heart attack which led to some other complications. He came in using a cane.

When it was time for my hygiene check, Julie came to me and said, “I don’t know what’s going on with Ron, but he was really hard for me to work with today. I tried to get as much accomplished as I could. I’m sorry.”

Ron was previously very health-centered but now he was behaving like he wasn’t. Do values change in that short a period? No, but a person’s priorities might, particularly when they have developed a distorted perspective due to some traumatic events.

When I entered the room, Ron’s attitude perked up. He was positive and respectful — he was honoring our long history of mutual respect. He updated me on what happened and how he was doing. Not only were his physical disabilities frustrating, but he had rarely left the house for over a year.

Following my exam, we discussed an area of decay and several cracked teeth — all restorable with crowns. He responded that he was old and wasn’t sure how much longer he would be around. He asked, “Is there an inexpensive way to fix this? I don’t want to spend a lot of money on my mouth.”

Dentists hear this every day, but in this case, I knew the REAL Ron. I knew it was his depression speaking to me. I told him it would make sense for us to develop a Phase 1 plan, meaning, “Let’s remove the decay and get everything stabilized like they would do for you in the ER if you had an emergency, and then we can talk later about restoring things back to the way they need to be — strong and secure.”

“I don’t think I want any restoration work,” he replied.

Then, I said, “Ron, I know how much you love to eat fine food, and it would be tragic if, in your last decade, you were limited to eating only soft food or you had to fumble around with a partial denture that catches food around it all the time. Like I said, let’s focus on Phase 1 and then talk about restoration later. We have time on our side.”

“Ok,” he said, “I can go along with that.” He needed to feel like he was in control.

I finished by using words that would resonate with him, “You know Ron, despite these things that need to be addressed, you have great bone around your teeth and a great smile, so there are good reasons to restore things and finish out strongly. If you were an old, uninspiring ‘84 Oldsmobile, I’d say there is no point in restoring things, but you’re like a 1956 Corvette barn find that’s still in good condition. You’re worth it. Let’s save the conversation about restoration for another day when you are feeling better. I’m so glad that you came in, I miss talking to you.”

Ron’s eyes lit up. He smiled and said, “Yea, maybe you’re right. I can’t move like a Corvette any longer, but I understand what you are saying. I really appreciate it.”

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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The Wonder of Relevant Examples – Part 2

March 21, 2022 Richard Green DDS MBA

One evening I was seated next to a new acquaintance at a dinner party. As we began the conversation, I learned Bob was a retired CFO of a manufacturing company with $250 million in sales. He had traveled extensively and had had many experiences in dental offices.

In our conversation, Bob discovered I was a dentist teaching at The Pankey Institute. I thought I would move the conversation off of dentistry and have the opportunity to climb into the mind of a CFO of a $250 million dollar company, so when he asked what I taught, I responded with “I teach Finance.” He looked surprised and a bit disinterested, but he said, “You know, the thing that impresses me most, about dentists, is how quickly they make decisions.”

Trying to find the compliment in the statement, he had just made and hoping he thought dentists to be of high intelligence, I queried, “Quick decisions?” He went on to tell me, and sometimes show me between bites of food, the crowns I had already noticed. He said, “It always impressed me, when I went into the dental office with a broken tooth, how the dentist would have a quick look around and then tell me I needed a crown. Sometimes he was ready to do it on the spot!”

Other things had come out in our conversation. He was an accomplished golfer with a six handicap. He had three homes, and each home had an identical set of golf clubs. All were recently updated, matched, swing-weighted custom sets. My mind was spinning as I thought about the gap between those matched sets of clubs and his unmatched set of teeth! How could I get his attention?

Doctor Pankey would often say to me, “Communicate with others by making your examples relevant to the other person’s experience or frame of reference.” The light bulb came on, and I said, “Tell me about how you made decisions as a CFO in your business.”

“Well, I take a good look at the short and long term impact of the decisions, the cost of capital necessary – both short and long term, and the risk/reward potential to the bottom line of the company.”

Now I was in full swing, “Sounds like you study the problem and/or opportunity with reflection and quite a bit of detail. You slow down and take the necessary time to uncover the best decision.”

“Well, yes, of course, they would be important decisions, and they would take time!” Bob replied.

“Quite honestly, Bob, that is exactly what I and others are attempting to teach dentists at The Pankey Institute. We are asking dentists to intentionally slow down and become more reflective, affective, and effective with their patients.” I could see he was thinking about this.

“Bob, let’s compare you and your teeth to your sets of golf clubs.” He was intently listening. “It’s as if, when you were a young man, God gave you a set of new golf clubs. We, as dentists, call them teeth. You used them through the years as you refined your golf game and in time you broke the 9-iron. You went to the pro shop and tried to get a new one. It was a 9-iron, of course, but the grip, the shaft and the swing weight were not quite the same as your original set. It was okay, because you knew how to adjust if you remembered to accommodate for the differences.

“As time went on, you had the same experience with your 7-iron, the 4-iron, the pitching wedge, and your favorite wood. In time, you were adjusting your swing and muscles every time you swung a club. You noticed there were times when certain muscles would get sore and even the soreness would get in the way of your swing chewing. Finally, you decided to get refitted with a whole new set of clubs. You went to a professional who put you through a whole series of tests and thorough evaluations to diagnose and plan the best solution, which fit your uniqueness. And, you not only got one completely new set of golf clubs, you got three.

“Many dentists would see you as a very busy man who wants to get out of the dental office with dispatch. They respond in a crisis mode to your crisis events. But, like clubs, teeth need to be customized and “matched” to work together so you aren’t constantly accommodating as teeth break and are restored. What we are encouraging dentists to do is to slow down and be as thorough as you would be in your decision making in your business. It’s better for you—actually better for all concerned.”

Bob’s face lit up, “So that’s what you teach?” “That’s what I teach,” I responded

With that “aha” smile, Bob said, “Would you be so kind as to give me your business card with the name of a dentist who thinks like you do? In fact, I’d like three – one for each of the locations of my golf clubs!”

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Richard Green DDS MBA

Rich Green, D.D.S., M.B.A. is the founder and Director Emeritus of The Pankey Institute Business Systems Development program. He retired from The Pankey Institute in 2004. He has created Evergreen Consulting Group, Inc. www.evergreenconsultinggroup.com, to continue his work encouraging and assisting dentists in making the personal choices that will shape their practices according to their personal vision of success to achieve their preferred future in dentistry. Rich Green received his dental degree from Northwestern University in 1966. He was a early colleague and student of Bob Barkley in Illinois. He had frequent contact with Bob Barkley because of his interest in the behavioral aspects of dentistry. Rich Green has been associated with The Pankey Institute since its inception, first as a student, then as a Visiting Faculty member beginning in 1974, and finally joining the Institute full time in 1994. While maintaining his practice in Hinsdale, IL, Rich Green became involved in the management aspects of dentistry and, in 1981, joined Selection Research Corporation (an affiliate of The Gallup Organization) as an associate. This relationship and his interest in management led to his graduation in 1992 with a Masters in Business Administration from the Keller Graduate School in Chicago.

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